Tinnitus Awareness Week 2024
Tinnitus Awareness Week is observed in the first full week of February every year across the globe. This week is essential for raising awareness about tinnitus and providing education on how tinnitus affects individuals.
Tinnitus is a common problem that affects millions of individuals of all ages. It is estimated that 20% of people experience tinnitus. Tinnitus is known as the perception of a noise, often sounding like a buzz, ringing, or humming sound, when there is no actual sound present. Since this sound can only usually only be heard by the individual and no one else can hear it, tinnitus can often be a stressful and frustrating symptom to live with. When tinnitus is not managed well, over time it can lead to communication difficulties, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.
There are two types of tinnitus known as subjective and objective tinnitus. For most of the time, tinnitus is subjective. This means that only the individual with tinnitus can hear the sound and other people cannot hear the ringing, buzzing or humming sound. Research suggests that subjective tinnitus is caused by damage to the hair cells in the inner ear caused by incidents such as noise exposure.
Objective tinnitus indicates that the ringing or noise is not only audible to the person experiencing it but can also be heard by others. This type of tinnitus is said to be caused by noise generated by structures near the ear such as nerves spasming and producing perceptible sounds.
Tinnitus varies significantly across different people. For some, the sound can be a continuous tone, while for others it can be musical or pulsatile. For some people, their tinnitus is intermittent and can only be heard at certain times of the day, while for others it is constant. Some individuals experience tinnitus in both ears whilst for others it can only be heard in one ear.
There is essentially no cure for tinnitus, however, just like type 1 diabetes, there are treatment options and lifestyle changes to help manage the symptoms of tinnitus to live a long and healthy life. So, what should you do if you start to notice you can hear ringing or buzzing type noise? It is essential you consult an audiologist and have your hearing checked.
It is essential to see an audiologist as several health conditions can cause ringing in the ears or amplify its severity, such as hearing loss. The audiologist will help to identify if there is something present triggering the tinnitus such as age-related hearing loss, exposure to loud noise, ear wax blockage, Meniere’s disease, or issues with the bones in the middle ear.
Those who have chronic tinnitus symptoms may struggle to ignore the sound of their tinnitus. This can cause an inability to focus, insomnia, irritability, and a short temper. Tinnitus can also cause difficulties communicating with others. When this is occurring, it is recommended the individual investigates treatment and management for their tinnitus.
There are many different options available for tinnitus treatment and the type of treatment most suitable for an individual often depends on whether their tinnitus is caused by an underlying health condition. For example, if tinnitus is caused by ear wax blockage in the ear canal, then ear wax removal is the best treatment for this individual. However, if tinnitus is caused by age related hearing loss, hearing technology such as hearing aids may provide the best relief from tinnitus for this individual. Additionally, there are behavioural treatment options available that can help those suffering with tinnitus. This includes options such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) or other forms of counselling. This involves a psychologist providing coping techniques to make tinnitus symptoms less bothersome.
If an individual has tinnitus, it is essential they work with a hearing expert called an audiologist to understand the cause of their symptoms and best treatment options.
At Knox Audiology, we take pride in our team of university qualified and experienced audiologists, who are committed to providing trusted, friendly, and professional hearing services, catering to all your unique hearing needs. Our comprehensive and diagnostic hearing tests are designed to understand and address your specific concerns, ensuring the best possible outcomes.